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Eye On The PostARCHIVE OCT, 2005 - JAN, 2006

Monday, January 30, 2006

Post Reporter Injects Own Opinion Opposing Cutoff of Funding to Hamas-Led Palestinian Authority

The Post's correspondent in Israel, Scott Wilson, made it plain today that he opposes the cutoff of funding to the Palestinian Authority in the wake of Hamas's election victory. (Israelis Seek to Isolate Palestinian Authority, Officials Urge Aid Boycott if Hamas Takes Role 1-30-06, A10) Quite apart from front loading the article with extensive quotes of Palestinian sources arguing against the cutoff of funding, with only a brief reference to the Israeli position late in the article, Mr. Wilson injected his own personal opinions into this news report. The following are unsupported expressions of Mr. Wilson's opinion advocating against a cutoff of aid:

  • "But the collapse of the authority, which has been dominated by the secular Fatah party, would pose enormous financial risks for the Israeli government and could give countries opposed to U.S. policies a chance to play a larger role in financing the Palestinians."

  • "Under international law, Israel remains the occupying power in the West Bank and Gaza, with responsibility for the well-being of the roughly 4 million Palestinians in those territories. This legal designation has not been modified, despite Israel's departure from this unruly coastal strip last year. The Palestinian Authority has been providing health, education and welfare services that Israel would have to finance in its absence."

  • "Siyam, who will be involved in discussions about the next cabinet, said it was too early to say whether Hamas would participate in the government as leaders of ministries or would support a cabinet of nonpartisan technocrats. Such a composition could allow the Bush administration and the Europeans to continue funding the government, given that Hamas would not be directly managing the ministries, though it would certainly be influencing decisions behind the scenes."

Mr. Wilson's reporting normally exhibits an effort toward balance. Today it fell far short of that mark. The following letter by Judge Grossman further illustrates the article's shortcomings.

From: Judge Herbert Grossman
To: Editor, Washington Post
Sent: January 30, 2006

To the Editor:

Scott Wilson in his new role as pamphleteer for the Palestinians gives us, up front, in "Israelis Seek to Isolate Palestinian Authority" (news, Jan. 30), all of their platitudes for a continuation of their funding by the U.S. and international community. To discontinue the funding would conflict with "democratic values," "punish" Palestinians for "expressing their democratic wishes," "collapse the Palestinian Authority," and force Israel to assume a "direct responsibility for all Palestinian needs."

Apparently, the U.S., the international community, and the Israelis must not only respect the Palestinians' desire to annihilate the Jews of Israel, they must also fund it. To do otherwise would not only violate democratic principles, because the Palestinians voted in a free and open election to adopt the policy of state-sanctioned murder, but would also violate international law, on which Wilson is now an expert.

What international law it is that requires Israel to support a population that attacked it and over which it assumed control in self-defense, but then withdrew from, in Gaza and the Palestinian-populated areas in the West Bank (although it maintains a security presence in the latter), Wilson does not state. Nor does he tell us why the Palestinians have an entitlement to large-scale international aid, which other, more impoverished peoples around the world, do not have. It certainly is not because of their peaceful intentions or history.

Perhaps if the Palestinians were forced to devote their energies to developing their economy instead of killing Jews, they would not need international aid and would not find themselves even partially under Israel's security control.

Judge Herbert Grossman

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Washington Post Airbrushes Hamas's Image to Soften Descriptions of Its Goal to Destroy Israel

A terrorist is not a "terrorist" to the Washington Post, and now a terrorist group whose charter declares that it is committed to the destruction of Israel is simply working for a Palestinian state on land on which Israel sits. 

The Washington Post has been attempting to soften the image of Hamas as a terrorist organization that has repeatedly stated that its goal is to destroy Israel. In some articles nothing at all is said about Hamas's goal to destroy Israel, and when something is said, with rare exception, it is couched in terminology that softens or even hides Hamas's true intentions. The following are examples:

Failing to educate readers as to Hamas's true goal to destroy Israel is not simply the omission of a minor detail. The goal of Hamas to destroy Israel demonstrates conclusively that at this time peace is not on this terrorist group's agenda.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Post Blames Bush and Israel for Hamas Election Victory and Downplays Fatah's and Abbas's Failures in Losing the Election

Anti-Bush and anti-Israel sentiments once again find their way into the analysis of the Post's Glenn Kessler of the Hamas election victory over Fatah. "Palestinian indignation" is primarily responsible for the pro-Hamas vote according to Kessler. He says the Bush administration "failed to back" Mahmoud Abbas "when he asked for concrete help, especially in his dealings with the Israelis" and "was so focused on facilitating Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip that it did not press Israel to end settlement expansion, release additional prisoners or take other measures that might have reduced Palestinian indignation." (U.S. Policy Seen as Big Loser in Palestinian Vote, 1-28-06, A16) As Leo Rennert's and Judge Grossman's letters reveal, Kessler's effort to blame Bush and Israel for causing the Hamas victory misses the mark.

From: Leo Rennert
To: Editor, Washington Post 
Sent: January 28, 2006

To the Editor of the Washington Post:

In trying to explain Hamas's stunning victory, Glenn Kessler faults President Bush for the devastating rebuke Palestinian voters dealt to Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party ("U.S. Policy Seen as Big Loser in Palestinian Vote" Jan. 28). If the administration had leaned harder on Israel to make concessions and blocked Hamas's participation in the elections, he suggests, the outcome might have been different.

Kessler's Monday-morning-quarterbacking is reminiscent of the blame game in the Truman years when Republicans accused Democrats of "losing" China following the Communist victory over Chiang Kai-shek's corrupt and repressive rule. But just as China wasn't ours to lose, the same is true of the Yasser Arafat-bequeathed Palestinian Authority that Abbas turned into a rudderless regime, unwilling to confront terrorism and incapable of providing law and order.

Abbas's governance, rotting from within, lost all credibility. When such rulers and regimes reach a certain tipping point -- whether Poland under Communism, Lebanon under Syria's thumb, Iran under the Shah -- no outside help can save them. The big loser in the Palestinian elections was not the White House; it was the Palestinians. This was primarily a self-inflicted tragedy stemming from years of self-destructive policies.

Leo Rennert

From: Judge Herbert Grossman
To: Editor, Washington Post 
Sent: January 28, 2006

To the Editor:

After misleading the public for years about the nature of Palestinian society, your reporters are understandably hard-pressed to explain how the supposedly peaceful and freedom-loving Palestinians, the darlings of the Europeans and the press, could vote overwhelmingly for Hamas, a genocidal, intolerant and inhumane political party that promises to annihilate Israel and impose the strict Islamist religious code, Sharia, on society.

So the press blames it either on corruption in Fatah, although there were other secular candidates and parties for the Palestinians to choose from that were unsullied by corruption, or, as Glenn Kessler does, in "U.S. Policy Seen as Big Loser in Palestinian Vote" (news analysis, Jan.28), on the U.S. for not pressuring Israel to appease the Palestinians more, even though the appeasement policy failed dismally during the Oslo era and brought on the current intifada.

How much sense would it have made for Israel to put imprisoned terrorists back on the street, as Kessler suggests, to murder again and believe that they can do so with impunity because they would soon be released again, especially when Israel has stymied the terrorist campaign by incarcerating them?

Isn't it time to acknowledge that the Palestinians voted for the party that truly reflects their values, and that the Jewish-Israelis, not the Palestinians, constitute the only humane, tolerant and democratic society in the Middle East, much as the biased press hates to admit it? How many more centuries will that bias continue, and how many more inquisitions, massacres, Holocausts and jihads will it instigate?

Judge Herbert Grossman

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Post Article Fails to Note That Ascendancy of Hamas Results From The Radicalization of The Palestinian Population and Not The Providing of Social Services

To: The Washington Post
From: Peter Vardon, PhD
Date: January 22, 2006

Scott Wilson and Glenn Kessler's otherwise balanced and informative article about the Bush Administration funding of some Palestinian Authority/Fatah public works programs neglects or mischaracterizes a few important issues. What they call the "secular Fatah movement" also controls the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Tanzim, which, like Hamas, claims a religious mandate, uses more suicide bombers to commit mass murder than Hamas, and, like Hamas, is dedicated to destroying Israel. When the Iranian madman Ahmadinejad quoted from Ayatollah Khomeini to “wipe Israel off the map” the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades issued a statement saying that they "support the position and declaration of the Iranian President, who called with all honesty to wipe Israel off the map of the world." 

Also, while it is true as the article states that the Palestinian Authority suffers from a reputation for corruption, divisions within Fatah and a continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank that makes a negotiated peace settlement unappealing to many Palestinians, a more balanced piece would have made clear that today the Palestinian population is simply highly radicalized, which is the more likely reason a negotiated settlement is unappealing. The attached poll shows that there is wide acceptance for Al-Qaeda's terrorism against the US and Europe (their principle funder) - 65 percent support attacks against the USA and Europe, and 89% of the Palestinian population support the adoption of Sharia - Islamic religious law to govern their day-to-day life and politics.

Moreover, contrary to what is widely reported, including in this article, Hamas helps very little in providing social services. Only 5% of the Palestinian population reports receiving any assistance from Hamas. The majority of assistance comes from UNRWA, which makes it unlikely the social assistance from Hamas is the reason for their popularity. The more likely reason Hamas is popular is their unadulterated fanaticism and attachment to Sharia.

Given the failure of continuing European and past US aid to 'buy off' or tame Palestinian radicalism, and the broad support for and use of terrorism across Palestinian political parties, the article should have asked why US taxpayers money will be at best flushed down the drain again, or at worst, used to support more terrorism against ourselves or our ally, Israel. 

Peter Vardon PhD

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Post Publishes Anti-Sharon Screed Masquerading As 'Analysis'

From: Leo Rennert 
To: Glenn Kessler, Leonard Downie, Ombudsman  
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Subject: Anti-Sharon Screed Masquerading As 'Analysis'

Dear Mr. Kessler:

Your mislabeled "analysis" piece, "Bush at Risk of Losing Closest Mideast Ally," (1-5-06, p. A12) about the likely consequences of Ariel Sharon's massive stroke was anything but an "analysis." It was a sly anti-Sharon, anti-Bush screed masquerading as "analysis" that dealt a serious blow to the Post's claim of serious, responsible journalism. Let me point out several examples of where you crossed the line from "analysis" to personal opinion:

     1.   In the second paragraph, referring to the U.S. commitments Sharon received for his Gaza disengagement, you write that he got a written pledge from Bush "that appeared to acknowledge" that Israel could keep large settlements on the West Bank and would not have to absorb any Palestinian refugees as part of a final peace deal. By inserting the phrase "appeared to acknowledge," you make it seem that Bush's pledge was somehow less than unqualified, perhaps subject to later revision or different interpretation. Of course, in reality, it is nothing of the sort. It is straightforward, direct. You may not like Bush's pledge to Sharon. But what does that have to do with "analysis"?

     2.   Later in the story, you write that Sharon let the U.S.-sponsored peace plan "become moribund." Now, it's clear that Bush's "road map" has been moribund for some time. But to put the entire blame on Sharon overlooks the fact that the Palestinians also let it become moribund by refusing to carry out their first obligations under the plan -- to dismantle terrorist organizations and to halt all anti-Israel incitement. Why ignore that salient fact when writing an "analysis"?

     3.   On your own hook, without any factual basis, you then go on to speculate that Sharon's has favored "something less than" a Palestinian state -- namely some West Bank land "crisscrossed by roads and tunnels to well-protected settlements." Again, this is another mega-stretch on your part to paint Sharon in the worst possible light. Contrary to your assertion, Sharon repeatedly has expressed total support for creation of a Palestinian state. The fact is, however, that he's played his cards close to his vest. Neither you nor I really knows the exact extent of the kind of Palestinian state he envisioned. What we do know is that he often mentioned that Israel would have to give up some of Judaism's most revered Biblical places in the West Bank and that he thus was preparing the Israeli public for some very painful concessions. Many of his critics in Israel took him at his word and suggested that his ideas of a "final border" coincided with the route of the security barrier. If so, that would leave 93 percent of the West Bank for a contiguous Palestinian state -- not the "something less than" a state you ascribe to him. That description befits your anti-Sharon views. But it does not accord with any factual record and thus hardly qualifies as "analysis."

     4.   Toward the end of your piece, you take on Bush for calling Sharon a "man of peace" during what you describe "as an especially tough crackdown on the Palestinians." Arab leaders, you continue, "at the time reacted with outrage at Bush's comment." Not a word about what might have prompted Sharon's crackdown. Because, you see, what you left out of your "analysis" is the key to the personal bias that infuses it throughout -- Sharon was fighting a war on terror, just as Bush was fighting his war on terror. In fact, terrorism makes absolutely no appearance in your "analysis" of the relationship between the two men. How odd, since this was the critical glue that held them together and kept them generally in sync. To read your piece, one would think that the two men were living and making decisions in a world where 9/11 or the intifada had never happened. Some "analysis"!

It would have been more honest on your part and on the part of the Post to label your piece "Personal Opinion" than to try and pull the wool over the eyes of your readers with a phony "analysis" label.

Leo Rennert

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Post Stitches Together Out of Context Snippets of News to Give Readers Impression Israel is Threatening Palestinian Elections

In the World in Brief section today the Post pieces together a few out of context snippets of news to give readers the impression that Israel is responsible for the current talk of a delay in Palestinian elections. The Post reports only that "Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas raised the possibility that this month's Palestinian elections could be delayed, saying they would not take place if Israel barred voting in Arab East Jerusalem." 

While it is true that Israel has in the past said it could not allow Palestinian voting in East Jerusalem, talks are under way now to modify that position, and it is widely believed that Mahmoud Abbas' real motive in avoiding elections this month is the disarray in which his own Fatah party has fallen and the prospect of losing to Hamas. The Post's own web site today features an AP story indicating the Israeli position on voting is nothing more than "a convenient excuse for delaying the vote" and that "Israeli officials say they don't want to take the blame and are looking for a compromise." 

Unfortunately, this AP story was only on the web site, and the context provided in it was missing from the report in the newspaper.

The newspaper report goes on to state in two paragraphs:

"Increased violence has intensified calls from Abbas's Fatah movement to put off the Jan. 25 vote for parliament, in which the ruling party faces a strong challenge from Hamas militants.

In the latest violence, Israel killed two Islamic Jihad militants in the northern Gaza Strip in a missile strike on their car."

Note the complete absence of any explanation that the "violence" of the first of these paragraphs is referring to internal Palestinian lawlessness, which has been widespread in recent weeks. That is what has prompted Fatah activists to call for a delay in the elections. The absence of such context, however, leads readers to conclude that the "violence" of the second of these paragraphs, that of Israel against terrorists, is what is threatening the delay of the elections. But this couldn't be farther from the truth. The terrorist groups are insisting that the elections proceed as scheduled.

Finally, there is a complete absence of any mention that Israel's missile strike on the Islamic Jihad terrorists took place in the northern Gaza zone - what Israel calls the "no-go" zone - from which the terrorists have been launching large numbers of Kassam rockets into Israel. The Post would allow its readers to conclude that Israel's missile strike was either unprovoked or worse, a deliberate effort to undermine upcoming Palestinian elections. 

The brevity of the World in Brief section is a poor excuse. Context could have been provided without significantly lengthening the report. Failing that, it would have been better to not report at all than to mislead readers.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Post Fails to Report Two Important Stories - New Palestinian Law Passed Providing Monetary Grants to Families of Deceased Terrorists - Terrorist Tunnel Discovered Under Gaza Fence Into Israel

To: The Editor, Washington Post
From: Warren A. Manison
Date: Monday, December 12, 2005

One of the key provisions of the Road Map is that the Palestinians dismantle the terrorist infrastructure operating throughout the West Bank and Gaza. World news sources have reported the following serious violations by the PA, again raising questions about the seriousness of the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to seek peace with Israel. 

1) Abbas has approved a new law providing monetary grants to the families of suicide bombers. This is a strange way to fulfill an obligation to stop terrorism. 

2) The IDF recently discovered a terrorist tunnel dug under the border between Israel and Gaza similar to the tunnels dug over the years between Gaza and Egypt and used to smuggle in terrorists and weapons. Upon discovery, the IDF notified the PA, but no action was taken. The IDF destroyed the tunnel. 

Neither of these serious impediments to peace between Israel and the Palestinians were reported in the Washington Post. The failure to cover critical stories that affect peace in the volatile Middle East is detrimental to an understanding of why peace is so elusive. 

Warren A. Manison

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Post Report on Marwan Barghouti Conspicuously Omits the Crimes of Which He Was Convicted And For Which He Is Serving Five Life Sentences

They won't call it terrorism. Perhaps they couldn't think of a genteel euphemism for murder, so they just skipped it entirely ....

From: Leo Rennert 
To: Washington Post Editors and Ombudsman
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2005 12:02 PM
Subject: The Real Marwan Barghouti

Something rather important is missing from the Post's report of Marwan Barghouti's apparent success in the Palestinian primaries ("Imprisoned Palestinian Heads for Political Win" Nov. 27, page A23). To identify him only as a "jailed Palestinian leader" serving life terms in an Israeli prison doesn't do justice to his real resume.

To get a full picture, readers also should be told that Barghouti, who keeps exhorting his followers to kill more Israelis, was tried and convicted for his leading role in multiple murders. Had those facts been published, it might explain why this killer remains "highly popular among young Palestinians" and why Israelis are reluctant to view him and his admirers as would-be peace partners.

Leo Rennert

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Post Writes With Deliberate Ambiguity to Downplay Hezbollah's Role in Provoking The Border Fighting With Israel

From: Leo Rennert 
To: Washington Post Editors & Ombudsman
Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2005 7:11 PM

One day since I sent you the e-mail below about the pitiable job the Post did in showing utter reluctance if not denial to pin the blame on Hezbollah for the flare-up of violence on the Israeli-Lebanese border, the top U.N. official in the area finger Hezbollah as the offending party, so did Kofi Annan and so did the U.N. Security Council in naming Hezbollah as breaking the calm and reminding Lebanon for the umpteenth time that Hezbollah has to be put out of business. Yet, so far, I've seen no effort by the Post to correct its botched story or catch up with the real news.

Are you banking on the fact that not too many readers are up to your all-too-often inclination to disregard or downplay the threats posed to Mideast stability by terrorist organizations armed, financed, sponsored and guided by Syria and Iran?

The reason Hezbollah unleashed the biggest border and cross-border attacks against Israel at this time is that it serves Syria's purpose to divert attention from the hole it's dug itself in the Hariri assassination investigation and the complicity of some of President Assad's closest aides, confidants and relatives.

But you would never know this reading the Post's coverage.

Leo Rennert

From: Leo Rennert 
To: Washington Post Editors & Ombudsman
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2005 12:08 PM

Since Scott Wilson has taken over the Jerusalem beat, I've sent you some complimentary evaluations of his work. He's definitely doing a better, fairer and more objective job than his two predecessors, who incessantly peppered their stories with pro-Palestinian spin. Rating Wilson better than Moore and Anderson might be construed as faint praise, given their all too often biased reporting, but regardless of their performance, his is generally fair.

Having said that, there are a couple of serious miscues in his two articles published Nov. 22.

In the first one -- about Sharon quitting Likud -- he writes that Sharon insists that negotiations with the Palestinians "must be preceded by a more effective Palestinian crackdown on armed groups at war with Israel." (Israeli Premier Quits Party and Forms His Own, 11-22-05, A01) Never mind that, as usual under the Post's Orwellian terminology, Wilson is not allowed to call these "armed groups" terrorists, which is what they really are. Putting this aside, where does he get the notion that Sharon is calling for a "more effective" crackdown on Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the other terrorist groups. In order for there to be a need for a more effective crackdown, there supposedly already is an effective one which simply needs to be ratcheted up. But that is 180 degrees from the real situation. Sharon is insisting on a crackdown which has yet to take place. There is no crackdown right now, let alone an effective one that needs to be strengthened. You don't have to take Sharon's word for it; Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly has stated publicly that he won't confront the terrorist organizations, but simply wants to entice them into the political process. On Abbas's watch, the terrorist groups have been given free rein to get more weapons and attack Israelis whenever they choose. Abbas's slogan of "one gun, one law, one authority" is an empty one, devoid of any implementation effort. There has been no crackdown whatsoever.

In the second Wilson story -- about Hezbollah-Israeli fighting on Israel's northern border -- the headline and the first several paragraphs of the story fail utterly to tell readers that it was Hezbollah that launched multiple, coordinated attacks along the border and inside Israel itself. (Hezbollah, Israeli Forces Clash on Lebanese Border, 11-22-05, A25) To put the most charitable take on it, readers looking only at the headline might come away with the impression that the fighting just suddenly erupted or even that Israel started it. After all, Wilson's lead puts Israel ahead of Hezbollah: "Israeli forces fought with members of the Islamic group Hezbollah for hours Monday...." In the 2nd graf, Wilson again suggests an Israeli assault by writing that four Hezbollah gunmen were killed and that the fighting included Israeli airstrikes. But it's the 4th graf that really takes the cake. "This was definitely an operation planned some time ago," said an IDF spokesman. From reading what precedes this quote, one would think that this was an operation ISRAEL planned some time ago. It's only when you finally get to the second part of the quote (in the second sentence of the 4th graf) that for the first time readers get a minimal inkling that perhaps it was Hezbollah that started the fighting: "These operations are usually launched when the timing is right for them." And it is not until the 7th graf that the story finally gets down to the real situation: "About 3 PM Monday, Israeli military officials said, Hezebollah forces began shelling Israeli positions...."

Overall, I still think Wilson is trying to do a better job than his predecessors, but in these two instances, he really lost it.

Leo Rennert

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Post Front Page Propaganda - Israelis Are Brutal Child Killers - Palestinians Want Peace and Therefore Donate Organs of Their Dead Children to Israelis

On Saturday the Post for the second time ran the story of the 12 year old Palestinian boy shot nine days previously by Israeli soldiers whose parents donated his organs to Israelis, supposedly as a peace gesture. This time around the Post ran it on the front page as a feature article. The first time the Post covered the story was last Sunday, November 6, 2005, three days after the event. (Palestinian Donates Organs Of Son, Shot Dead, to Israel, Sunday, November 6, 2005, A24) In seeking to understand why the Post ran this story again, particularly on the front page, it should be noted that the first time it appeared it was not simply a miniaturized version of the story relegated to the World in Brief Section. It was an eight paragraph Reuters article. 

But this was no ordinary story to the Washington Post. It fulfilled two prongs of the Post's long term agenda in support of Palestinian propaganda on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It depicted Israel in a brutal light, and it depicted Palestinians in a beneficent and peaceful light. So the Post ran it a second time. (Life and Hope Flow From Palestinian Boy's Death, In Peace Overture, Family Donates Organs to Israeli Patients, 11-12-05, A01)

To accomplish the goal of depicting Israel as brutal, the opening paragraph of today's article quoted and highlighted a slogan accompanying a Poster of the 12 year old on a wall of posters in Jenin: "'Why the Palestinian children are killed?'" 

The Post's correspondent, Scott Wilson, in the opening sentence of the article adopted the language of the terrorists when he called the posters of armed adult terrorists surrounding the poster of the boy "martyr posters." He then notes: "But the 12-year-old boy is shown cradling a guitar instead of the assault rifles brandished in the grim tributes around him."

The article then describes what happened: 

"Ahmed, the couple's son, was shot twice last week by Israeli soldiers in what the military said was a mistake made during the heat of street fighting near their house. The boy had been holding a toy gun." 

Note the emphasis on Ahmed being "shot twice." Note the attempt to draw the skepticism of the reader with the phrase "in what the military said was a mistake." Note it was just a "toy gun" the boy was holding. If the now skeptical reader bothered to read through to the end of the article, he would note that the victims own friend who was standing three feet away at the time confirmed the Israeli version and stated that the boy was standing with a toy Uzi submachine gun amid adult fighters who were shooting at the Israeli soldiers:

"Ahmad Tawfiq, 11, was standing three feet away when the bullets struck Ahmed that day. He said Ahmed held a toy gun shaped like an Uzi and that the boys stood among five Palestinian fighters exchanging gunfire with Israeli soldiers in Jeeps." 

Why did the Post's correspondent early in the article use words of doubt as to the version of the Israeli military when he knew the Israeli version had been confirmed? Why did Mr. Wilson wait until the end of the article to inform the reader that the Israeli version had not only been confirmed, but that these adult Palestinians who were shooting at Israelis permitted children to stand with them during the gun battle? Why did Mr. Wilson stop short of asking the logical question of any of the Palestinians he interviewed as to why this child was permitted to stand with a toy assault rifle with adults who were shooting at Israelis? 

Because to do so would have made the apprenticeship of this 12 year old as a terrorist all too apparent. This is made clear when late in the article it is revealed, almost as an afterthought, that this boy was close to the leader of the terrorist group Al Aksa Martyrs brigades in Jenin, Zakaria Zbeida. Mr. Wilson states: 

"Ahmed collected the martyrs' posters, bringing them home only to have his mother tear them up. He threw rocks at army Jeeps. A few days before he died, he left a drawing of a heart on Zbeida's doorstep, said the guerrilla leader, who helped shoulder his coffin to the grave."

Perhaps more important than the Post deliberately serving as a propaganda tool of the Palestinians is why the Post never reports the myriad examples of Israeli outreach and peaceful gestures made toward Palestinians. Why do Post readers never learn in the Post's pages of the thousands of Palestinians allowed to travel into Israel for humanitarian medical treatment? Why do Post readers never learn in the Post's pages of the many Palestinian doctors who attend Israeli medical schools or train in Israeli hospitals? Why do Post readers not learn from the Post of organs of Jews that end up being transplanted into needy Palestinians? Wouldn't this article have been an appropriate place to mention that such peace gestures are not limited to Palestinians and have a long history among Israelis? Instead, this reporter saw fit to report in the middle of this article that "[f]ewer than half of families in Israel agree to organ donations, many because of religious convictions," as if to suggest that Israelis are not nearly as magnanimous as Palestinians.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The French Intifada - Rioting Muslim "Youths" May Not Be As Young As The Washington Post Would Have Its Readers Believe

Who are the "youths," the "French born" children of immigrants, the "youth gangs" or the "young men" that Post correspondent Molly Moore tells you are rioting in France? What does the Washington Post's headline mean when it speaks of "youth rage?" (Parents' Tears Calm Youth Rage, Rampaging Subsides in Paris Suburb Where Riots Began, 11-11-05, A18)

It doesn't necessarily mean teenagers, because in this article by Ms. Moore, despite use of all those descriptors to lead readers to believe these are very young people, the only two rioters interviewed by Ms. Moore were 25 and 26 years old.

 " ' The tears of our mothers stopped us,' said Maldini, 26, a stout, 
French-born son of Algerian immigrants. '
The parents, the mothers and fathers were all crying.'"

"We didn't want to continue burning cars and hurting people," said Waleed, a thin, towering 25-year-old who flipped a sweatshirt hood over his shaved head to ward off the evening chill. "It was just to attract attention. We did what we thought was just."

While it's a given that newspaper readers shouldn't believe all they read in the newspaper, with the Washington Post it's an understatement.

Friday, November 11, 2005

To The Post, Indonesia Has Terrorists - Israel Doesn't - Post Continues to Employ Disparate Standards In Its News Reporting From Israel

The Post still refuses to refer to terrorists who attack Israelis as terrorists unless it is quoting or paraphrasing someone else, usually an Israeli or American official. On the other hand, the Post doesn't hesitate to refer to terrorists in other countries and regions of the world as "terrorists." Although we would have liked to see it used in the headline, the word "terrorist" is used 4 times by the author of this Washington Post article about the killing Wednesday of a major Indonesian terrorist. (Militant Believed Killed in Indonesia, Key Figure in Radical Group Reportedly Died in Battle With Police, 11-10-05, A24

"He specialized in making bombs for terrorist attacks...."

"Azahari had been able to direct several major terrorist attacks in Indonesia...."

"When an anti-terrorist police unit surrounded the hideout...."

"Investigators have said the two men played a central role in all of the country's major terrorist bombings recently...."

For no rational reason the Post continues to treat Israel differently in its news reports. It's commendable that the word terrorist is used to accurately describe the politically motivated murderers of innocents in other countries, and this should continue. It's inexcusable to censor the word from news reports on Israel and the disputed territories. It's time for the Post to rethink this policy.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

The Possible Impact of Hunger On Post Reporter Molly Moore?

Is it hunger that makes Molly Moore an apologist for Muslim terrorists, extremists and rioters? Readers will recall that Ms. Moore was the Post's correspondent in Israel and the disputed territories, and often wrote articles sympathetic to terrorists. When she interviewed Palestinians for articles in which she set out to evoke sympathy for Muslim terrorists or extremists, she employed bizarre comparisons of her interviewees to edibles. 

For instance, one of the two still living friends among a group of Palestinian teenagers who took up careers as terrorists was described as ".... a towering man with limpid eyes the color of rich toffee" (In Jenin, Seven Shattered Dreams Boyhood Hopes Forged on Theater Stage Dissolve in Reality of Intifada, 7-19-04)

Again, in writing about her interview of Zakaria Zbeida, the terrorist leader of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, she described him as having "skin ... the color of roasted pecans." (Refuge Is Prison For Hunted Palestinian, De Facto Sheriff Is Wanted by Israelis, 8-23-04)

She has now been reassigned to Paris and is covering the Muslim rioters, but in seeking to sculpt a sympathetic profile of the rioters in which she blames their rioting on poverty and vague claims of neglect on the part of the French government, we see the same munchable comparisons.

Mohammed Rezzoug, the custodian of the local gym and soccer field, who says of the rioting Muslim teenagers, "They're my kids," is described by Ms. Moore as having "thinning black hair and skin the color of a walnut." (Rage of French Youth Is a Fight for Recognition, Spreading Rampage in Country's Slums Is Rooted in Alienation and Abiding Government Neglect, 11-6-05, A1)

Ms. Moore makes every effort to downplay the fact that the rioters are part of the Muslim community in France. They are "French youth," "youths," "culprits," "perpetrators." They grew up "playing soccer." " She says "they are the children of baggage handlers at nearby Charles de Gaulle International Airport and cleaners at the local schools." By her emphasis upon their ages, she suggests their acts are less serious. Never mind the French bus with passengers still inside it that was set on fire by these youths. Never mind the many innocent civilians murdered by such "youths" wearing bomb packs in Israel.

Just as she made excuses for the terrorists murdering Israelis, she now makes excuses for the Muslim rioters in France. Their rioting is, according to Ms. Moore, a "dramatic demand for recognition." Ms. Moore's walnut colored (and obviously delicious) interviewee, Mohammed Rezzoug, says ' Through this burning, they're saying, 'I exist, I'm here.' " 

She points the finger at poverty, but poverty does not equate with lawlessness, rioting and violence in other world communities. She forgets that most of the Moslems who emigrated to France and throughout Europe escaped poverty and deprivation much worse than they are now experiencing in their European countries. When she was in Israel, she focused the blame on Israelis. Now that she's in France, she blames the French government. She comments about " .... the staid political hierarchy that has been inept at responding to societal shifts."

Could someone please get Ms. Moore a snack? This type of pap (or should we say pablum?) is making us nauseous.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Now Even The Euphemism "Militant" Is Being Sanitized By The Post -
 Terrorists Are Now "Extremists" Or Just Plain "Palestinians"

An article in the Post today about the Israeli killing yesterday of an Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade terrorist in Gaza who had just finished launching rockets into Israel was only five short paragraphs, but it was more than enough to reveal an anonymous Washington Post editor's furtive effort to further slant an already biased AP dispatch. 

The source of the article was an AP dispatch by Ibrahim Barzak. (Palestinian Militant Killed in Gaza Strip, 10-29-05) This dispatch ran on the Post's web site, but someone at the Post changed the headline, touched up a few select words in the body, removed the byline and ran it as the lead story in the World in Brief section of the paper edition. (Targeted Palestinian Killed by Israeli Missile, 10-29-05, A17) Note that from the web site to the newspaper the headline was altered to remove any reference to the slain terrorist being a "militant" and to substitute instead "Palestinian." It appears that it is now not enough for some at the Post to euphemize terrorists as "militants." Now the terrorists are just plain "Palestinians." 

Note also that the changed headline refers to the Palestinian as having been "targeted." Use of the word "targeted" appears to be a disingenuous attempt to bring to mind the debate over "targeted" killings of the terrorist leadership by Israel. But this wasn't a terrorist leader and this wasn't a "targeted" killing as that term has been extensively used. The debate over targeted killings has to do with the pursuit and killing of those known to be actively involved in terrorism, but at a point in time not immediately associated with their terrorist acts. On the other hand, this was the pursuit and killing of a terrorist escaping the scene of his terrorist act, and the article itself indicates (albeit not until the second paragraph) that the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades admitted that Israel had been shooting at its members after they fired rockets into Israel. 

The first paragraph of the AP/Barzak dispatch states: 

"Israeli aircraft rained missiles on Gaza early Saturday, hours after an attack in this northern town killed a Palestinian militant. The surge in violence has dimmed the prospects for peacemaking following Israel's pullout from the coastal strip." 

The Post's web site version of its World in Brief article is identical, and it states: 

"Israeli aircraft rained missiles on Gaza early Saturday, hours after an attack in this northern town killed a Palestinian militant. The surge in violence has dimmed the prospects for peacemaking following Israel's pullout from the coastal strip." 

But somewhere between the web site version and the ink version, the article was changed to read: 

"Missiles fired from an Israeli aircraft struck a car in this northern Gaza town Friday, killing a Palestinian extremist and escalating the bloodletting that has dimmed the prospects for peacemaking following Israel's pullout from the coastal strip." 

Note the Post's substitution of the word "extremist" for the term "militant" used in the AP/Barzak version. At this point in the article the reader still doesn't know that the Palestinian who was killed by Israel was escaping from the scene of a rocket attack on Israel. And by using the word "extremist," the reader is given the impression that the victim may have been just a political extremist. 

Note further the Post's alteration of the relatively neutral "surge in violence" language in the AP/Barzak article to language that directly accuses Israel of "escalating the bloodletting." 

The third paragraph of the AP/Barzak dispatch began: 

"The Israeli military said its aircraft targeted the white Subaru in Beit Hanoun because the militants inside were on a mission to fire rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot."

The Post eliminated the words "militants inside" and substituted in their place "occupants":

"The Israeli military said its aircraft targeted the Subaru because the occupants were on a mission to fire rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot."

The final paragraph of the AP/Barzak dispatch was sufficiently anti-Israel as to require no alteration by the Post. In blaming Israel for the violence, it states: 

"A week of bloodshed began Monday when Israeli troops killed the top gunman from the Islamic Jihad militant group in the West Bank. An Islamic Jihad revenge suicide bombing Wednesday killed five Israelis in the central Israeli town of Hadera." 

This paragraph completely ignores Israel's announcement that it had evidence that the Hadera bombing was not in revenge for its killing two days earlier of an Islamic Jihad leader. Israeli forces had received intelligence that the Hadera terrorist had for some time been searching for a location to bomb, and they had been pursuing him. In addition, the self-serving selection of the one week period beginning Monday completely ignores that Islamic Jihad has been regularly engaging in terrorism against Israel. 

One of the functions of an editor should be to tweak articles to make them fairer and more balanced. At the Post some editors are shamefully transparent in doing the reverse with articles about Israel.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Post's Coverage Of Hadera Terrorist Bombing: Scott Wilson's Reporting Represents Improvement Over Predecessors, But Post's Selection Of Photographs Continues To Soften Image Of Terrorists And Downplay Israelis As Victims

Correspondent Scott Wilson's coverage of the Hadera bombing remains an improvement over his predecessors in terms of its balance and can only be criticized for its continued avoidance of any reference to the word "terror" or its derivatives and its semantic softening of the descriptions applied to terrorists and terrorist groups, i.e, "militant," "militias," "radical group," "military wing" and "fighters." (Suicide Bomber Kills at Least Five Israelis at Market, Palestinian Group Vows More Attacks, 10-27-05, A12) How incongruous it is to see Mr. Wilson avoiding calling this bombing an act of terrorism, while his editors don't hesitate to do so. The most recent example of this is an excellent editorial today, in which they state: "....Iran possesses missiles that can reach Israel and sponsors terrorists who carry out suicide attacks in its cities." (A President's Hate Speech, 10-28-05, A22)

But those at the Post responsible for the selection of photographs once again showed their relative indifference to Israelis as victims of Palestinian terrorism. While other newspapers (Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, New York Times) covering the bombing featured photographs of the carnage at the scene of the bombing, something the Post regularly does with terrorist bombings outside of Israel, the Post featured only one photograph of the crying mother of the dead Hadera terrorist. Photographs of the carnage were plentiful. Perhaps this is a message about who the Post considers most important among the victims of Palestinian terrorism. If not, Post's editors ought to be asking who was responsible for this poor exercise of judgment and doing something about it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Welcome to Post's New Ombudsman, Deborah Howell - Former Ombudsman, Michael Getler, Joins PBS, Where Pro-Palestinian, Anti-Israel Bias in Middle East Reporting Will Continue to Pass Under His Radar

We welcome the Post's new ombudsman, Deborah Howell, and hope she'll prove stronger and more independent than her predecessor, Michael Getler. When the Post circled the wagons, so did Mr. Getler. He all too often perceived his role to be that of defending the Post against legitimate criticism, sometimes with reasoning that could only be characterized as lame. When he did find fault with the Post's reporting, it was often weak and on topics that were less subject to controversy. 

Mr. Getler has now joined PBS as its first ombudsman. Despite the fact that he has moved from print to broadcast media, he should feel right at home.

PBS President Pat Mitchell said she "began thinking about hiring an ombudsman before Kenneth Tomlinson, who recently stepped down as chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, began criticizing PBS for liberal bias." (PBS Taps Post's Getler as Its First Ombudsman, 10-6-05, p. C7)

We're not surprised, because if Ms. Mitchell had seen the injecting of political bias into news reports as a problem, Michael Getler was not the person to spot it and call it for what it is.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Two Examples of the Post's Selective Reporting and Failure to Report News to Support Its Agenda

Those who follow Middle East news closely know that the Washington Post often selectively reports or fails to report news based on how the news fits in with the Post's agenda. This selective reporting includes statements by officials as to the US position on various issues.

The Post's editors considered it worthwhile today to publish on its news pages a good sized (15 paragraphs) quibble over whether Karen Hughes has been accurate when, on her Middle East tour, she has stated that President Bush is to be credited with the US' support for the creation of a Palestinian state. (Talking Points Aside, Bush Stance on Palestinian State Is Not a First, 10-5-05, A18) The Post argues it was President Clinton who deserves that credit. 

In contrast, Post editors never considered it worthwhile to publish Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's September 30, 2005 detailed exposition of the US position with regard to the Palestinian Authority's obligation under the "roadmap" to disarm and disband terrorist groups. (http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2005/54178.htm) As will be seen, Secretary Rice's comments were highly newsworthy and were something Post readers should have read about. In a question and answer session in front of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Secretary Rice stated:

"We've been very clear that Hamas is a terrorist group and it has to be disbanded, both for peace and security and in the Middle East and for the proper functioning of the Palestinian Authority. After all, it is a roadmap obligation of the Palestinian Authority to disband militias and armed resistance groups. There are periods of time of transition in which one has to give some space to the participants, in this case the Palestinians, to begin to come to a new national compact. But I cannot imagine, in the final analysis, a new national compact that leaves an armed resistance group within the political space. You cannot simultaneously keep an option on politics and an option on violence. There simply isn't a case that I can think of internationally where that's been permitted to happen. 

For instance, in the Good Friday Agreement it was understood that when Sinn Fein came into politics and eventually the IRA would disarm and perhaps, hopefully, that process is now underway. We did not permit the Afghan warlords to keep their weapons and participate as candidates in politics. They had to make a choice. And so it is absolutely the case that you cannot have armed groups ultimately participating in politics with no expectation that they're going to disarm. But we are very clearheaded about Hamas. 

Hamas stands for one-state solution, not a two-state solution. Hamas, therefore, stands for the destruction of Israel. Hamas is an organization that asks Palestinian mothers and fathers to give their children up to make themselves suicide bombers. And it is a real detriment and block to further peace in the Middle East, so we're not at all confused by this. We do, I think, need to give the Palestinians some space to try and reconcile their national politics, but they're going to eventually have to disarm these groups. They can't have it both ways." 

Secretary Rice's statement was a very clear explication of the US position on the single most important issue involved in efforts to bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians. Yet the Washington Post apparently didn't want its readers to know the US position and therefore decided to ignore it.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

The Post Publishes A Fawning Review Of Israeli Political Theater Depicting Israel in an Extreme Negative Light

Even on slow news days the Post finds a way to depict Israel in a negative light. Today, under the pretext of writing about politics finding its way into Israeli theater, the Post published a story about a play that demonizes Israel, while portraying Palestinians as pathetic victims. (Gaza Debate Whets Israeli Appetite for Theater, 10-2-05, Page A27

We say pretext, because if the article was really about
politics finding its way into Israeli theater, it would not have been about only one far left theatrical production bashing Israel. It would have been a complete review of politics across the political spectrum as it is appearing in Israeli theater, including the vast center of Israeli political views. Instead, Scott Wilson, the Post's correspondent, chose to feature and depict as approaching mainstream what he says is:

"a growing body of political fiction in Israel, generated mostly by young Jewish writers, that reflects a broader intellectual movement known as post-Zionism, which questions the validity of Israel as a Jewish state."

The play is a production by 9 actors (five Israelis and four Arabs) about "troubled soldiers," Israeli checkpoints, the security fence, "daft" security guards, and "conflicted" Palestinians. 

In one scene, the security fence is placed down the middle of the home of a Palestinian family, separating the kitchen and bathroom from the rest of the house. The cruel Israeli construction worker asks: "Do you use them much?" and then, after installing a turnstile and checkpoint in their living room, says: "When you need to use them, just tell the soldier it's a humanitarian case." 

The suspected Palestinian suicide bomber on a bus, who all the passengers are eyeing fearfully, turns out not to be a suicide bomber after all, but rather, an Israeli, who is then forced by the driver to do a striptease.

The play is set with a background involving a killing by Israeli soldiers of an 11 year old Palestinian child at a demonstration, followed by Israelis lying about and trying to cover up the killing.

Another scene shows a soldier "brutally kick[ing] a young Palestinian rock-thrower huddling on the ground."

Paragraph after paragraph of this article describes the play's portrayal of cruel Israelis, callous Israelis, deceitful Israelis and Israelis plagued by guilty consciences. Although Post correspondent Scott Wilson gives lip service - one paragraph at the end of a long article - to scenes which he says are also uncomplimentary to Palestinians, he describes these scenes as merely showing Palestinians as "hapless or vengeful." The word "hapless" has a dictionary definition of deserving or inciting pity, hardly an uncomplimentary depiction and most certainly the picture Palestinians themselves seek to convey through a huge, worldwide propaganda machine. "Vengeful" requires something for which one seeks revenge and implies that Israel provokes this response. Never once is there any reference to the goal proclaimed by all Arabs at the outset of the Jewish state and still violently pursued today by many Palestinians to destroy Israel, to drive it from the Middle East

And even if  this one paragraph toward the tale end of  Mr. Wilson's article showed that the play has balance, it is so outnumbered by the many paragraphs preceding it that describe scenes in the play assailing Israel and Israelis as to be almost meaningless. 

Mr. Wilson goes out of his way to attempt to show that this play is well received, although his comments to that effect are not persuasive. He describes some soldiers from one of the actors' military units staying after the performance to hug the actor and cry. He asserts that the theater is full many nights. He describes a group (the number is not provided) of young people in the front rows giving a standing ovation. He quotes one young person complimenting the production. So much positive is said that some readers might miss the few brief comments he places at the end of the article indicating that some audience members "complained bitterly over what they called its pro-Palestinian slant," while others "shouted about missing historical context" and still others "wept in frustration."

This is a play emanating from one of the extremes of the political spectrum in Israel - what Mr. Wilson describes as an "intellectual movement ... which questions the validity of Israel as a Jewish state," - but it is the play about which Scott Wilson chose to report and inaccurately portray as expressing the views of a substantial segment of the Israeli population. Perhaps it was simply wishful thinking.

From: Judge Herbert Grossman
To: Editors & Publisher
Date: October 2, 2005

To the Editor:

Scott Wilson displays a certain conceit, and an unjustified one at that, in "Gaza Debate Whets Israeli Appetite for Theatre" (news, Oct. 10), when he naively promotes the views of the intellectual movement known as post-Zionism as reflected in the current Israeli play called "Tangle." 

It is always satisfying to be pure of heart and to take the position that there is moral equivalency on all sides in the history of the Arab-Jewish conflict in the Middle East, as we are all sinners. But reality puts the lie to that philosophy when one attempts to apply it to that conflict, as the post-Zionists and impressionable reporters schooled in Western society do.

The Jews actually did return to their ancient homeland in the 20th century to seek haven from anti-Semitism, to work the land, and to live in peace with their Arab neighbors, without attempting to dispossess them, and the Arabs actually have been trying to murder them during this entire period simply because they are Jews. That is the reality, as the earliest Zionist authors accurately portrayed it, and that portrayal was not at the expense of historical truth, as the post-Zionists charge and Wilson repeats.

The bloodbaths, tyrannies, and denials of human rights in Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the entire Arab world, and the would-be genocide sought by the Palestinians of Israeli Jews, are the reality of Arab-Muslim culture, and they do not find their parallels in Israeli Jewish society or philosophy. The post-Zionists can flatter themselves on their humanity, altruism and tolerance, but if the mass of Israelis or their leadership had also closed their eyes to reality for the sake of vanity and intellectual purity, all would have become victims, including those who now have the luxury of being post-Zionists.


Judge Herbert Grossman

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